30 April 2006

I see from my "This Day in History" calendar that on 30 April 1939 television was first publicly broadcast.

Not much to say tonight . . . it was a bit of a dull weekend.  Well, apart from the Lehigh fires thing.  But as far as I was concerned, there was just the normal busy work on Saturday.  Took my old computer to be recycled.  Exchanged things at the mall.  To the gym.  TV.  Went out with the roomie to Edo's Squid, which is a very cool (yet reasonably priced) Italian place near VCU. 

Today was church.  It was missions Sunday, so there were various speakers.  We heard about the (dismal) state of the church in Europe as well as post-modernism (not all bad).  Then tonight there was a lecture about the spiritual state of the American university (good and bad, apparently).  We listened to speakers from the Center for Christian Study up in Charlottesville.

And as there is an inservice at Bryant and Stratton tomorrow I spent today trying to concoct a teaching philosophy.  No luck, but I did find the teaching philosophy a grad school professor once made the mistake of sharing, in which she concludes, "I believe in Tinkerbelle, and you."  No joke.  Really.

25 April 2006


One of the annoying things about having car work done is that no one really appreciates it. Sure, you're not a hazard to your fellow drivers anymore, but do they care? I guarantee if I dropped $550 on a new outfit, or a couple spiffy pairs of shoes, or a haircut and highlights by an artiste, I'd be getting compliments for weeks. I expect my readers to toss at least a few compliments on my shiny new exhaust system, part of which can be seen here.

Anyway, my story is a sadly familiar one. I brought my car to my buddy Oakie for the state inspection. The brake fluid displayed a distressing propensity to leak, so they jacked the car up and discovered that I needed new rear brake cylinders as well as an entire new exhaust system. If only I'd had my camera with me I'd have gotten pictures of the old one - it was pretty well rusted through. I had a good three-hour wait in the shop. I am a big fan of Sportsman Car Care in Chester for a number of reasons, not least of which is that their decor suggests . . . well, that all of your money is going back into parts and labor, not cushy chairs and cable TV.

It was a long morning, and since it was Monday there was no one I could call to relieve the boredom. On the plus side, there were no tow trucks involved (as there were last year) and no telephone interviews took place from the cabs of said tow trucks (again, see last year). I must count my blessings, especially as there is no longer any money left to count.

24 April 2006

I'm an archivist, baby!

And I know how to keep track of paper.

My Victory Lady membership apparently expired sometime over the weekend . . . three years, hard to believe. But as I was despairing I suddenly remembered I had a six months for free coupon stashed away in a folder marked "V" for Victory Lady. Sure enough, there it was. I tell you, the people were surprised - clearly very few people manage to keep up with those coupons.


The above is the promised picture of my weirdly large dishcloth. Clearly my gauge was way off, or maybe it has more to do with the fact that I didn't use the yarn called for. (The pattern called for Peaches n Creme, and I used some other cheap cotton yarn, Sugar and Cream, or something. Surely it's all the same? Surely not.) But I am pleased with it nonetheless, and I especially dig the way the slip stitch pattern makes it look all complicated. It's not. In fact, it's the work of only a few hours in front of the TV. This is the kind of knitting I get really excited about, mindless stuff that ends up looking great and turns otherwise wasted hours into an excellent dishcloth, or blanket, or whatever. I will be making many things from Mason Dixon Knitting.

In other news, I turned in my grades today and got my car inspected. It wasn't pretty. More on that later, after I've dried my tears.

23 April 2006

Pictures from last weekend . . .

It's been a slow couple of days, sadly lacking in anything exciting to write about. My roommate Kristin was away in North Carolina at a wedding (where she met some people from Millbrook!) so it was pretty quiet . . . just me and my cat, who is always glad to have me to herself. I've been busily putting off getting the last of the semester's papers graded and grades calculated, but that must come to an end as grades are due tomorrow. I stopped by Borders last night and bought a fab new knitting book, Mason-Dixon Knits. I was so inspired by it I immediately rooted through my yarn stash and knitted up a dishcloth. It's lovely, though worrisomely large. I am assured that it will draw up because it's cotton. We'll see. It's drying even as we speak . . . pictures to come. The book is excellent, lots of two-dimensional projects and cool colorways. I hope to knit lots of things from it.

Anyway, it's been a while since I had photos so tonight's post will be spiced up by pictures taken last weekend at Meme's house. The first is the property in her neighborhood that I just lust after. It's a sweet little house, but look at that water. And the flowers, the trees, the gravelly drive, and the pier. I often go walking at night and hear people talking, laughing, singing, and generally enjoying themselves. The second picture is, obviously, a flower of some kind or other. If I'm not mistaken, Meme said it's from a cutting her father gave her years ago. There's lots of it in her yard, just a delicate little lacy white flower. When I took this picture I was experimenting with the extreme close-up feature on my camera. I'll catch all the tricks eventually. I'm considering a photography class.

19 April 2006

No pictures tonight, and not much to say either.  Mom and Dad are in Florida.  The American Revolution began on this day 231 years ago.  Oh, and I had my last night of class last night.  Now I have only to calculate the grades and that's another semester done!  I'll be teaching again this summer . . . pity.

17 April 2006

The Lord is Risen Indeed!

And what better way to celebrate than an Easter dinner? I went down to Meme's house in Chesapeake after work on Saturday and found that, since Aunt Linda was away, I would be charged with cooking the ham as well as the asparagus and rolls. There was a little drama as I had to go out and find asparagus, and was reduced to WalMart produce, which I am sorry to report was not outstanding. I had to sort out a few dodgy-looking asparagus spears. Also had to make do with equipment that was not my own. However, in the end we had a fabulous dinner, part of which is pictured here.

I would also like to note that I was the only person at dinner to have been at Meme's church that morning, so I was the only one to witness the horrible desecration of our final hymn. I cannot remember the title, but it was one of those tricky ones where you sing all the verses first and then a little refrain at the end. For anyone who's ever had a music class, this is a pretty simple matter of looking for the repeats. Apparently the only people in the congregation that morning who'd ever had a music class were the organist and myself. Even the choir was mixed up.

I believe this is what they mean when they say "the blooming garb of spring." I got lots of nice pictures of flowers this weekend. (Also some not-so-nice pictures, still trying to get the hang of that darn camera.) The dogwoods are always pretty, and Meme's pink dogwood is just stunning. Though I must say I generally prefer the white ones, which look like little bits of lace interspersed through the woods. Hard to believe that a few hours after this picture was taken we experienced a nasty thunderstorm featuring marble-sized hail.

14 April 2006

Plano Pomegranite

Okay, I treated myself to a pedicure tonight in celebration of the warmer weather and all. I had my toes polished in a shade called Plano Pomegranite (sp?). You can't tell from the picture, but it's got just a little bit of glitter in it. Fabulous.

Perhaps as a result, I didn't get as much done tonight as I'd hoped. I think I'll be taking a later trip to Chesapeake tomorrow than I'd anticipated. However, I did get caught up on my Scrubs watching reading, so it's fine.

Lots of Easter pictures to come!

13 April 2006

I've been a lazy blogger! It's Maundy Thursday, and instead of being at church, I went to the gym tonight and came home to enjoy an evening of . . . nothing. It's glorious.

As I'm going to be away this weekend I've been trying to eat up all my perishables, so I polished off the lettuce, and the asparagus in one swell foop. I pan-roasted the asparagus (as described earlier) and put it over the lettuce along with Paul Newman's lemony Italian dressing. Then I put some fried haloumi cheese over all and gobbled it up along with a glass of Spanish Rose.

Haloumi is my new thing. It was an impulse buy at the Fresh Market, and it's just great. It's a kind of Greek cheese that doesn't melt. You just fry it in a dry nonstick pan and it gets nice and toasty and soft. It's excellent with lemon. I believe it is the same cheese that they light on fire in Greek restaurants. Charlotte and I had a portion of flaming cheese at a Greek place in Hell's Kitchen (New York City, not as scary as it sounds).

Nothing much new to report, though I did get a fabulous black wrap dress that is made the same as my fabulous brown wrap dress. Daring. Oh, and the Richmond city council did decide to move some of the bus stops from in front of the Library, should cut down on loitering by about a half. Excellent.

My This Day in History widget tells me that today is the anniversary of the Edict of Nantes, which gave religious toleration (temporarily) to the French Huguenots in 1598. It is also Thomas Jefferson's birthday. He would be 263.

10 April 2006

It's been a while since I blogged, during which time Kerry has made two entries, both featuring photographs.  I'd meant to run out today and get some pictures of spring (it's approaching its height here) but ran out of time and daylight.

I see from my "This Day in History" widget that today is the 400th anniversary of King James I chartering the Virginia companies of London and Plymouth.  

Ooh, and I just got back from a Fresh Market run.  Anyone who knows me knows I believe that Richmond in general and the West End in particular is tragically underserved by grocery stores.  The Fresh Market works to address that by having a great selection of produce (organic and conventional), nifty imported foodstuffs, and a selection of meats, cheeses, and breads that is unrivaled in this part of town, if not the entire metro area.  And you can actually buy wine there!  

All I need now is a Publix and I'll be a happy woman.

07 April 2006

Just back from supper club . . . the pear cake was a big success!  Instead of the brown sugar cream I just did a plain lightly sweetened whipped heavy cream with the addition of 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger to a bit over 3/4 cup cream.  It was subtle but good.  The cake was nice without being overly sweet, just right after an indulgent meal that featured:

Seven Layer Dip
Rolled Chicken Breast
Spinach Casserole
Zucchini and Tomato Casserole
Caribbean Rice
Three Bean Salad
And of course . . .
Pear Cake and coffee

A good time was had by all, and I think I've officially made up my 10K calorie deficit.  Back on the straight and narrow soon.  Really.

06 April 2006

Pear Cake

Supper club meets tomorrow night, and as I have been assigned to bring dessert, I did a bit of baking tonight. (I was quite pleased with my assignment, by the way, and also pleased that the organizer picked up on my hint that I enjoy baking.) I thought about pound cake - lemon or plain - with strawberries, but the strawberries at the store were pretty expensive, so I decided to do pear cake. Pear cake has the additional virtue of being a little unusual. It's a little more of a fall cake than a spring cake, but I think I'll be forgiven for that lapse as long as I don't try to wear white shoes.

The recipe is from Cook's Country, which is published by the people who put out my beloved Cook's Illustrated. Cook's Country is a little more homey, less exhaustive. You'll find very few water baths or double boilers between its pages.

So anyway, this was a pretty basic butter cake batter, with brown sugar instead of white, and with the addition of some powdered ginger. I believe it also had a quarter cup of heavy cream. I put in in a pan and pressed some sliced canned pears on top, the sprinkled with brown sugar and drizzled with more butter. It baked for about 35 minutes. I had the whole thing done - prepared, baked, cleaned up, and out of the oven - within an hour.

I'll dust it with some powdered sugar and bring some whipped cream, possibly the fabulous brown sugar whipped cream I debuted on the Thanksgiving pumpkin cheesecake a few years back: 1 part sour cream, 1 part brown sugar, and 2 parts heavy cream. Beat together until it's as thick as you like your whipped cream to be. You can add a slug of bourbon, but it's pretty near perfect as it is, glossily billowed on your cake, adding its rich and caramelly taste to every bite.

04 April 2006

I did NOT need to know that

So, I just got back from class. A student of mine revealed all kinds of things about her miserable existence that are really none of my business. It really did make me wonder why people seem so glad to share very personal details with strangers. Anyway.

My cat is just like a toddler in that she is always into everything. She was crawling across my desk, "typing" on the computer. Then she moved to biting off bits of paper to eat. Now she's batting at the earbuds on my ipod. (She also wakes my up at odd hours and gets hostile when I go to groom her.)

03 April 2006

To the list of things I can do, add:

Replace bathtub faucet.

02 April 2006

141 Years

LinkOkay, so I realize it's not exactly normal to have the date of the fall of Richmond seared into your brain, and four years ago I could have probably placed it in April 1865, but no closer. However, because of the nature of my job I often run into the brick wall created on the night of April 2-3, 1865. Where are the records of New Kent County? What happened in the trial of the accused witch in Princess Anne? We'll never know, as they, along with numerous other records, went up in smoke 141 years ago.

A good description of the events (though with a Yankee bias) appears here. Someone's put together a cool page with links to contemporary descriptions of the fall and occupation here. And yes, strictly speaking, retreating Confederates did start the fire. What would you do? Leave all the munitions for the occupiers? I don't think so. Besides, what's the point of being Southern if you can't blame all your problems on the Yankees and the humidity?

In other news, I was greatly amused today to discover that my church now has a podcast for its sermons. Last Sunday's sermon (preached by Os Guinness) is already there. Take a listen.

01 April 2006


1:01:54. That's my time. It's not what I had aimed for, which was under an hour, but it was faster than last year's 1:03:42. Further, I came in 351 in my division of 1337, which is an improvement over last year's 634th place division finish. (Of course, I moved to an older division this year and am therefore a whippersnapper, but let's not dwell on that.) If I'm doing my math right - it happens sometimes - that works out to about about a 9.5 minute mile, which is better that I usually get training. Not bad, but still room to improve.

Back from the races!

And not only did I finish, I ran the entire way. We haven't gotten the results back yet . . . I was hoping to do the whole 10K in under an hour, but I'm not sure if I managed that. It was hotter this year (not sure what it was at starting time, but it's about 80 now) and more humid, as well as being more crowded. (There were 16,000 runners last year, over 20,000 this year. They say it's the 4th largest 10K in the country now.) Also, having to walk 1.3 miles to the start probably didn't help.

We started on Broad near the VCU Fine Arts building and ran a little way before turning over to Monument. At first it was fantastic. It's really one of the world's great streets, monuments, gorgeous houses, etc. For the race they have bands up and down the median, and the residents all sit on their porches and wave as they drink . . . ah . . . coffee. By the time we slow runners get to Monument the fast ones are nearly finished, so we got to see them in their final stretch.

I did pretty well until the turnaround,then started to drag a bit. Around mile 4.5 I started to regret my existence, and at about mile 5 my left knee started to hurt. (This, though, is progress, as it usually hurts after three miles.) I really, really, really wanted to take a walk break, but I persevered, and finished, oh, probably about midway through the pack. I collected my water, food, Powerade, and trekked another 1.3 miles back to my car.

It really was a fun morning, though (even if it involved getting up at 6 a.m.!) and I have felt not a bit guilty for having laid around all day and gobbled up a burrito bol for lunch.